Staff Professional Development
The Shared Mission
The mission of professional development (PD) in Gongshang Primary School is to develop all staff with the necessary competencies and dispositions and to provide a quality learning experience to the learners. We strongly believe that such an experience is built on strong teacher-student relationships and on teachers being practitioners and reflective in their interactions with students. This is in alignment with the Singapore Teaching Practice website unavailable model.
The process of the planning, implementation and review of key processes of the staff resource planning and development is systematic and intentional.
Taking reference from the various reference points, the school’s learning direction is endorsed by the School Management Committee at the beginning of the new school year. In meeting the short- and long-term goals of the school’s learning direction, all departments will plan and design their key learning programmes for the year. By end of February, the school’s learning direction and departmental learning plan will be shared to all staff. This is to empower all staff to see how the objectives of the departmental learning activities are designed to provide the conditions for all to learn collaboratively and to reflect on their teaching and learning practices.
The Features of GSPS’s Professional Learning
Pulling from various literature reviews, the features consist of the following principles for a quality PD approach:
1. Shared learning direction: With the shared school’s learning direction communicated clearly, this helps the school to see how the departmental and individual learning plans support student development with a shared purpose.
2. Aligned with curriculum standards and national goals: The key learning objectives are explicitly stated so that the departments can plan and design the PD activities to meet such larger curriculum goals.
3. Collaborative: This is one of the important design principles when learning activities are organised. Learning opportunities are designed for teachers to come together with their rich collection of classroom strategies and experiences on different aspects of student learning. The exchange of this rich, cumulative knowledge helps staff to further hone their competencies and thereby, enhance student learning.
4. School-based: Most of the PD activities are designed and facilitated by a school-based team of key personnel and experienced teachers. The activities are designed to be more customised to meet the departments’ and school’s needs. Since teachers’ and students’ work are built in as learning artefacts of some activities, this allows the departments to monitor, follow-up and evaluate the effectiveness of the learning programmes.
5. Needs-driven: While the departments plan and design most of the PD activities, the school also involves staff in the designing of some on-the-job learning activities and also celebrating their efforts in trying out new learning strategies. Such opportunities allow more staff to share their expertise and help to develop the professional growth of others.
Students’ learning modes will change when they enter secondary schools. With the advancement of digital media and learning skills that we need to develop for the new learning landscape, there is a need for us to re-look at what the new technological world can offer us with new learning opportunities. With a vision of creating a common learning space for all staff and in view of the time and space constraints everyone is facing, the school is examining how social media can be leveraged for collaborative professional learning to take place any time, any place. According to Thomas and Brown (2011), such “new culture of learning” taps on the massive information network that allow teaching and learning resources to be curated and shared in a “bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries”. Moving forward, the school needs to re-think and re-imagine how professional learning should take place, who we can learn with and what platforms can be used to maximise participation ownership. As Thomas and Brown (2011) has put it nicely, “we need to cultivate the imagination for a world of constant change” (2011).
Thomas, D., and Brown, JS. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a world of Constant Change. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.